`Does the doormat influence the boot?' Critical thoughts on UK NGOs and international advocacy

Most UK development NGOs engage in advocacy work at the international level in an attempt to reduce the constraints imposed on grassroots development by global economics and the actions of the official aid agencies. Thus far, their record has been disappointing, and this paper explores some of the reasons which lie behind the failure of NGOs to fulfil their potential in this field. Four strategic weaknesses are identified: an overall absence of clear strategy, a failure to build strong alliances, a failure to develop alternatives to current orthodoxies, and the dilemma of relations with donors. Each weakness is analysed with reference to practical examples, and appropriate conclusions drawn. This article is freely available as a chapter in Development and Advocacy.